The Beginning Of The End
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Top 1% Own 39% Of All Global Wealth: Hoarding Soars As We Hurtle Toward Economic Oblivion

Little Boy - Poverty In Africa - Photo by Herman PietersAccording to a study that was just released by Boston Consulting Group, the wealthiest one percent now own 39 percent of all the wealth in the world.  Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent only own 1 percent of all the wealth in the world combined.  The global financial system has been designed to funnel wealth to the very top, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand at a frightening pace.  The global elite continue to hoard wealth and heap together enormous mountains of treasure in these troubled days even though the economic suffering around the planet continues to grow.  So exactly how have the global elite accumulated so much wealth?  Well, one of the primary ways is through the use of debt.  As I have written about previously, there is about 190 trillion dollars of debt in the world but global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.  Our debt-based global financial system systematically transfers wealth from us and our governments into the hands of the global elite.  And of course the gigantic banks and corporations that the elite control are constantly gobbling up everything of value that they can find: natural resources, profitable small businesses, real estate, politicians, etc.  Money, power, ownership and control are becoming very, very tightly concentrated at the top of the food chain, and that is a very dangerous thing for humanity.  When too much money and power gets into too few hands, it almost always results in tyranny.

What will eventually happen when the global elite have ALL the wealth?

Will the rest of us work as serfs in a system that they have iron-fisted control over?

And what if they decide that they don’t really need billions of people working for them?  Will they decide to implement population control measures in order to reduce the number of “useless eaters”?  It is already happening in China and other highly centralized societies.

When all of the economic rewards of a society go to a very small handful of people, it tends to be very destabilizing.  We have seen this again and again throughout history.

When people have everything taken away from them and they have nothing left to lose, they tend to become very desperate.  And right now we are rapidly hurtling toward a time of great global instability.  Anger and frustration are growing all over the globe, and the rate at which the gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening seems to be accelerating.  Just check out these numbers…

-The wealthiest 1 percent of the global population now owns 39 percent of all the wealth on the planet.

-According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the planet.

-According to a study conducted by Credit Suisse, the bottom two-thirds of the global population owns just 3.3% of all the wealth.

-A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.

-It is estimated that the entire continent of Africa only owns approximately 1 percent of the total wealth of the world.

-Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry each night.

-If you can believe it, more than 3 billion people currently live on less than 2 dollar a day.

In the world that we live in, money equals power.  And the more money that the top one percent accumulate, the more power they will accumulate as well.

So exactly who are the top one percent?  I discussed this at length in my previous article entitled “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“.  The global elite are absolutely obsessed with power and control and they have been working to implement their agenda for a very long time.  In the end, they hope to unite the entire planet under a monolithic global system that they control.  They are actually quite open about this – it is just that most people do not want to believe it.

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is rapidly growing in the United States as well.  Sadly, this means that the middle class is steadily disappearing as the ranks of those that are living in poverty continues to increase.

But of course not everyone is doing badly in the U.S. right now.  In fact, those that own stocks have had lots of reasons to celebrate in recent months.

So who owns stocks?

Well, the wealthy do of course.  In fact, approximately 60 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the top 5 percent of all Americans.

During the last recession, Americans lost 16 trillion dollars of wealth.  Since then, about 45 percent of that wealth has been “recovered”, but the vast majority of that “recovery” has been due to rising stock prices.  The following comes from a recent Washington Post article

From the peak of the boom to the bottom of the bust, households watched a total of $16 trillion in wealth disappear amid sinking stock prices and the rubble of the real estate market. Since then, Americans have only been able to recapture 45 percent of that amount on average, after adjusting for inflation and population growth, according to the report from the St. Louis Fed released Thursday.

In addition, the report showed most of the improvement was due to gains in the stock market, which primarily benefit wealthy families. That means the recovery for other households has been even weaker.

“A conclusion that the financial damage of the crisis and recession largely has been repaired is not justified,” the report stated.

Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most thriving middle class in the history of the world.  That was a great thing.  But now the middle class is being destroyed and government dependence has surged to an all-time high.

The following are some of the incredible statistics that show how wide the gap between the wealthy and the poor in America is becoming…

-The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans now own more than a third of all the wealth in the United States.

-In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

-According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

-The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

-On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

-Between 2009 and 2011, the wealth of the bottom 93 percent of all Americans declined by 4 percent, while the wealth of the top 7 percent of all Americans increased by 28 percent.

-The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

-The top 0.01% of all Americans make an average of $27,342,212.  The bottom 90% make an average of $31,244.

For much more on how poverty is rising and the middle class is being destroyed, please see my recent article entitled “22 Facts That Prove That The Bottom 90 Percent Of America Is Systematically Getting Poorer“.

Obviously we have a huge problem here.

With each passing day, poverty is rising and more people are becoming dependent on the government.

So what is the solution to this mess?

Please feel free to voice your opinion by posting a comment below…

Corporatism: A System Of Control Designed By The Monopoly Men Of The Global Elite

Corporatism: A System Of Control Designed By The Monopoly Men Of The Global EliteThe Dow is at a record high and so are corporate profits – so why does it feel like most of the country is deeply suffering right now?  Real household income is the lowest that it has been in a decade, poverty is absolutely soaring, 47 million Americans are on food stamps and the middle class is being systematically destroyed.  How can big corporations be doing so well while most American families are having such a hard time?  Isn’t their wealth supposed to “trickle down” to the rest of us?  Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works.  Today, most big corporations are trying to minimize the number of “expensive” American workers on their payrolls as much as they can.  If the big corporation that is employing you can figure out a way to replace you with a worker in China or with a robot, it will probably do it.  Corporations are in existence to maximize wealth for their shareholders, and most of the time the largest corporations are dominated by the monopoly men of the global elite.  Over the decades, the politicians that have their campaigns funded by these monopoly men have rigged the game so that the big corporations are able to easily dominate everything.  But this was never what those that founded this country intended.  America was supposed to be a place where the power of collectivist institutions would be greatly limited, and individuals and small businesses would be free to compete in a capitalist system that would reward anyone that had a good idea and that was willing to work hard.  But today, our economy is completely and totally dominated by a massively bloated federal government and by absolutely gigantic predator corporations that are greatly favored by our massively bloated federal government.  Our founders tried to warn us about the dangers of allowing government, banks and corporations to accumulate too much power, but we didn’t listen.  Now they dominate everything, and the rest of us are fighting for table scraps.

In early America, most states had strict laws governing the size and scope of corporations.  Individuals and small businesses thrived in such an environment, and the United States experienced a period of explosive economic growth.  We showed the rest of the world that capitalism really works, and we eventually built the largest middle class that the world had ever seen.

But now we have replaced capitalism with something that I like to call “corporatism”.  In many ways, it shares a lot of characteristics with communism, and that is why nations such as communist China have embraced it so readily.  Under “corporatism”, monolithic predator corporations run around sucking up as much wealth and economic power as they possibly can.  Most individuals and small businesses cannot compete and end up getting absorbed by the corporations.  These mammoth collectivist institutions are in private hands rather than in government hands (as would be the case under a pure form of communism), but the results are pretty much the same either way.  A tiny elite at the top gets almost all of the economic rewards.

There are some out there that would suggest that the answer to our problems is to move more in the direction of “socialism”, but to be honest that wouldn’t be the solution to anything.  It would just change how the table scraps that the rest of us are getting are distributed.

If we truly wanted a return to prosperity, we need to dramatically shift the rules of the game so that they are tilted back in favor of individuals and small businesses.  A much more pure form of capitalism would mean more wealth, less poverty and a more equitable distribution of the economic rewards in this country.

But it will never happen.  Most of our politicians are married to the big corporations and the wealthy elitists that fund their campaigns.  And most Americans are so uneducated that they believe that what we actually have today is “capitalism” and that the only alternative is to go “to the left” toward socialism.

Very few people out there are suggesting that we need to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations, but that is exactly what we need to do.  We need to give individuals and small businesses room to breathe once again.

With each passing year, things get even worse.  In fact, the founder of Subway Restaurants recently said that the environment for small businesses is so toxic in America today that he never would have been able to start Subway if he had to do it today.

For much more on how small business is being strangled to death in the United States, please see my previous article entitled “We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America“.

What I want to do now is to discuss some of the results that “corporatism” is producing in America.

First of all, we continue to see incomes go down even though we live in an inflationary economy.

As Time Magazine recently reported, personal incomes took a huge nosedive during the month of January…

Data released by the Commerce Department last week showed that personal income fell 3.6% in January, the biggest decline in 20 years. The drop was even bigger when taxes and inflation are taken into account. Real personal disposable income fell by 4%, the biggest monthly drop in half a century.

But this is part of a longer term trend.  Median household income in the U.S. has declined for four consecutive years, and it is now significantly lower than it was all the way back in 2001

Real median US household income — that’s “real,” as in “adjusted for inflation” — was $50,054 in 2011, the most recent data available from the US Census Bureau. That’s 8% lower than the 2007 peak of $54,489.

Meanwhile, big corporations are absolutely raking in the cash.  The following is from a recent New York Times article

“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”

The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.

Today, corporate profits as a percentage of U.S. GDP are at an all-time high, but wages as a percentage of U.S. GDP are near an all-time low.

Just check out the following chart.  Corporate profits have absolutely exploded over the past decade…

Corporate Profits After Tax

Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP continue to fall rapidly…

Wages And Salaries As A Percentage Of GDP

Most of the jobs being created in America today are “low wage” jobs.  Tens of millions of Americans are working as hard as they can only to find that they can barely put food on the table and provide a roof over the heads of their children.  The ranks of the “working poor” are exploding and the middle class continues to shrink.

Many of you that are reading this article are members of the working poor.  You know what it is like to stare up at your ceiling at night wondering how you are going to pay the bills next month.

Today, most Americans are living very close to the edge financially.  A recent article by NBC News staff writer Allison Linn shared some of their stories.  The following is one example…

Crystal Dupont knows what it’s like to try to live on the federal minimum wage.

Dupont has no health insurance, so she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years. She’s behind on her car payments and has taken out pawn shop and payday loans to cover other monthly expenses. She eats beans and oatmeal when her food budget gets low.

When she got her tax refund recently, she used the money to get ahead on her light bill.

“I try to live within my means, but sometimes you just can’t,” said Dupont, 25. The Houston resident works 30 to 40 hours a week taking customer service calls, earning between $7.25 and $8 an hour. That came to about $15,000 last year.

It’s a wage she’s lived on for a while now, but just barely.

Sadly, the number of Americans that are “just barely” surviving continues to grow.

But if corporate profits are soaring to unprecedented heights, then who is getting all of those rewards?

The monopoly men of the global elite are.

Just check out the following video which does a great job of illustrating how corporatism has systematically funneled all of the economic rewards in our system to the very top…

Once again, I want to make it very clear that I am not advocating socialism as the answer in any way, shape or form.  Socialism takes away the incentive to create wealth and it almost always results in almost all of the economic rewards going to a very tiny elite anyway.

As I said earlier, what we need is a return to a much more pure form of capitalism, but this is so foreign to the way that most people think that most people will not be able to grasp this.

It certainly would be possible to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations at the same time, but this is so “outside the box” for most people that they cannot even conceive of doing such a thing.

We need to create an environment where individuals and small businesses can thrive once again.  But instead, most of us are content to continue “playing the game” and getting enslaved in even more debt.

For example, according to CNBC, auto loans just continue to get larger and continue to get stretched out for longer periods of time…

American car buyers, attracted by new models and cheap financing, are taking out bigger auto loans and stretching out the terms of those loans to a new record length.

New analysis from Experian Automotive shows the average new car loan in the fourth quarter of last year was $26,691 and stretched out over an average of 65 months. The length of the average loan is one month longer than the previous record set in the third quarter of last year.

What will they think of next?

Will we eventually have auto loans that get paid off over 10 years?

By the way, that is another way that the monopoly men of the global elite get all of our money.  They enslave us to debt, and we spend year after year of our lives slaving away to make them even wealthier.

They are very smart.  There is a reason why they have 32 TRILLION dollars stashed away in offshore tax havens.  They know how to play the game, and they are very happy that most of the rest of us are asleep.

Fortunately, it appears that an increasing number of Americans are waking up.

For example, I wanted to share with you all an excerpt from a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles

In the past year, I’ve been slowly but surely waking up to the nonsense happening around me. There’s so many things I need to simply get off my chest, so excuse the length of this post. Recently in the past two years, I’ve gotten married and have been medically discharged from the Marines after being injured in Afghanistan. Being 23 years old and married, my goal is secure a secure a future for my family, but with the way things are going, I’m not exactly sure how much of a future we’re going to have in 50 years. I can’t explain it, but I’ve felt this need to change my attitude and motivations lately.

I started by turning off the garbage music, television and other mindless entertainment that seems to plague my generation. It was easier than it looked – I don’t miss most of it really. The next order of business was to educate myself on world news, so that’s what I did. Every day, like clockwork, I check all major mainstream news feeds (NBC, Fox, Abc, CNN, Reuters, BBC, etc.) as well as not-so-mainstream news sites – yours being one of them. It’s incredible how fast our world changes and the manner in which it changes. The local 10 o’clock doesn’t show anything but local news, sports, weather, lottery #’s and whatever else they decide to throw in. It’s a night and day difference once you start to actually research and see what’s happening all over the world. Look at the number of comments about a news story on the economy and then look at a celebrity story on the “news”….People are so blind, it truly amazes me. My friends, family and classmates at college seem to be under a spell of some sort. They’re distracted – and it’s contagious. Nobody I know gives a damn about global affairs/economics. They’re more interested in the newest iPhone, cars, shows, movies, and just about anything else you can think of. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things, but my friends/family/peers are CONSUMED by these distractions. When the election was taking place in 2012, every Tom, Dick and Harry on Facebook had an opinion and rant. After the circus ended however, everyone simply went back to posting about parties, kittens, Farmville etc. It’s a huge joke. For me, it’s little terrifying and exciting to see history unfolding in front of our eyes. This country of ours is going through big changes now that will most certainly affect our future, so I strive to adapt and prepare myself and my family. I’m looking at buying my first home this summer. Right now I live in an apartment right outside Philly and spend more money on rent than most pay for a mortgage. I need a house with a little land to raise chickens, grow fruits/vegetables, store canned food – and to be as independent from the system as I can. For my job, I wanted a skill/trade that people would always need, so I picked the funeral business. On the side, I work in construction and have been learning everything there is to know about building with my own two hands. I feel as though these old forgotten skills are going to be handy in a short while.

Hopefully we can get a lot more people to wake up and start breaking out of “the matrix” of control that is all around us.

Right now, the system is designed to continually funnel more money and more power to the very top of the pyramid.  The global elite are becoming more dominant with each passing day.  Unless something dramatic happens, at some point the American people will become so powerless that they won’t be able to do anything about it even if they wanted to.

The idea of a very tiny elite completely dominating all the rest of us goes against everything that America is supposed to stand for.  In the end, it will result in absolute tyranny if it is not stopped.

Who Runs The World - Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Are Pulling The Strings

Abolish The Income Tax: You Won’t Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered

Abolish The Income Tax - You Won't Believe Who Is Getting Away With Paying Zero Taxes While The Middle Class Gets Hammered - Photo by TravisThe federal income tax is a bad joke and it needs to be abolished.  All over the nation, hard working American families are being absolutely crushed by oppressive levels of taxation, and our politicians are constantly coming up with new ways to extract money from all of us every single year.  Meanwhile, many ultra-wealthy Americans and many of the most profitable corporations in the country pay little to nothing in taxes.  In fact, as you will see below, there are dozens of very prominent corporations that make billions of dollars in profits and yet don’t pay a dime in taxes.  Tax avoidance has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.  Those that have the resources to “play the game” use shell companies, offshore tax havens and the thousands of loopholes in our tax code to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Meanwhile, the rest of us get absolutely hammered.  This is fundamentally unfair.  The federal income tax system is irreversibly broken at this point, and it is time to abolish it.  If you think that the federal income tax system can be “fixed”, then you probably have never studied it.  Our tax code is nearly 4 million words long and it is absolutely riddled with thousands of loopholes that favor big corporations and the ultra-wealthy.  We should come up with a better, fairer way to fund the government.  The United States once prospered greatly without a federal income tax, and it could do so again.

Many people simply do not believe that it is possible for corporations inside the United States to make billions of dollars in profits each year and not pay a dime in income taxes.

Well, according to a report put out by Public Campaign, that is exactly what is happening.  Posted below are numbers that come directly from their report.  30 large corporations are listed, and 29 of them had a tax burden for 2008 through 2010 that was less than zero even though they all made enormous profits.  And all 30 of them spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes.

The numbers that you are about to see are for 2008, 2009 and 2010 combined.  For “taxes paid”, please note that for 29 of the corporations a negative number is given.  That means that the net tax liability for 2008 through 2010 was actually less than zero.

After seeing these numbers, is there anyone out there that is still willing to claim that our tax system is “fair”?…

General Electric
U.S. Profits: $10,460,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$4,737,000,000

PG&E Corp.
U.S. Profits: $4,855,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$1,027,000,000

Verizon Communications
U.S. Profits: $32,518,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$951,000,000

Wells Fargo
U.S. Profits: $49,370,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$681,000,000

American Electric Power
U.S. Profits: $5,899,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$545,000,000

Pepco Holdings
U.S. Profits: $882,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$508,000,000

Computer Sciences
U.S. Profits: $1,666,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$305,000,000

CenterPoint Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,931,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$284,000,000

NiSource
U.S. Profits: $1,385,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$227,000,000

Duke Energy
U.S. Profits: $5,475,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$216,000,000

Boeing
U.S. Profits: $9,735,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$178,000,000

NextEra Energy
U.S. Profits: $6,403,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$139,000,000

Consolidated Edison
U.S. Profits: $4,263,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$127,000,000

Paccar
U.S. Profits: $365,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$112,000,000

Integrys Energy Group
U.S. Profits: $818,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$92,000,000

Wisconsin Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,725,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$85,000,000

DuPont
U.S. Profits: $2,124,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$72,000,000

Baxter International
U.S. Profits: $926,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$66,000,000

Tenet Healthcare
U.S. Profits: $415,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$48,000,000

Ryder System
U.S. Profits: $627,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$46,000,000

El Paso
U.S. Profits: $4,105,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$41,000,000

Honeywell International
U.S. Profits: $4,903,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$34,000,000

CMS Energy
U.S. Profits: $1,292,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$29,000,000

Con-­way
U.S. Profits: $286,000,000
Taxes Paid: ‐$26,000,000

Navistar International
U.S. Profits: $896,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$18,000,000

DTE Energy
U.S. Profits: $2,551,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$17,000,000

Interpublic Group
U.S. Profits: $571,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$15,000,000

Mattel
U.S. Profits: $1,020,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$9,000,000

Corning
U.S. Profits: $1,977,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$4,000,000

FedEx
U.S. Profits: $4,247,000,000
Taxes Paid: $37,000,000 (a rate of less than 1%)

Total
U.S. Profits: $163,691,000,000
­Taxes Paid: ‐$10,602,000,000

Just look at that combined total again.

Those 30 companies had combined profits of more than 163 billion dollars during those three years, and yet the combined net tax liability of those companies was negative 10.6 billion dollars.

I wish I could make my taxes look like that.

Another company that is making headlines because of their taxes these days is Facebook.

It turns out that Facebook made more than a billion dollars in 2012 but did not pay a single dime in federal or state income taxes.  The following is from a report that was just released by Citizens for Tax Justice

Earlier this month, the Facebook Inc. released its first “10-K” annual financial report since going public last year. Hidden in the report’s footnotes is an amazing admission: despite $1.1 billion in U.S. profits in 2012, Facebook did not pay even a dime in federal and state income taxes.

Instead, Facebook says it will receive net tax refunds totaling $429 million.

According to Businessweek, Facebook has an additional 2 billion dollars in tax credits that it will be able to use in future years…

Facebook says that it anticipates reducing its tax liability in the future by an additional $2.17 billion by using further net operating loss carry-forwards that it has banked.

And of course when it comes to abusing the tax system, the big Wall Street banks are some of the worst offenders.  The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

—–

Here are just a few examples of how the corporations and Wall Street banks these CEOs work for have significantly harmed our economy and the federal budget:

1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.

In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.

Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.5 billion.

Bank of America has stashed $18.5 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Bank of America would owe an estimated $2.5 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.

During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

2. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon

Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.

Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion

JP Morgan Chase has stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid payng income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion

During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie DImon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.

3. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.

In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.

Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.

In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.

Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $3.32 billion.

Goldman Sachs has stashed $20.63 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $3.32 billion in federal income taxes.

Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.

During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.

—–

Are you starting to get the picture?

The big banks and the big corporations make billions, but they pay nothing or next to nothing.

The rest of us bust our rear ends to try to get ahead, and we get gouged by dozens of different taxes.

Over time, the percentage of the overall tax burden shouldered by corporations has gotten smaller and smaller.

Back in 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes accounted for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

These days, large corporations have become absolute masters at avoiding taxes.  In fact, there are many international tax havens that are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

But corporations are not the only ones doing this kind of thing.

The ultra-wealthy have also mastered the art of legally not paying taxes.

As I mentioned in a previous article, it has been reported that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.

With that amount of money, you could pay off the entire U.S. national debt and still have enough money left over to buy every product and service produced in the United States during an entire year.

It is time to admit that our tax system is broken.

Congress has had decades to fix it, and yet the abuses just keep getting worse.

What we are doing is not working.

We need to abolish the income tax.

If you are still not convinced that the federal income tax is an abomination and that we need to abolish it, here are some more shocking facts about our tax system from one of my previous articles about taxes

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We have now entered a time of the year when tens of millions of Americans will be filling out their tax returns, and the pain of going through that process will make people even more receptive than normal to the truth about how broken our system is.

So what do you think?

Do you think that it is fair for the ultra-wealthy and hugely profitable corporations to get away with paying zero taxes while you get hammered?

Do you believe that it is time to abolish the income tax?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

No Federal Income Tax

Who Tells Us What To Think? Does The Mainstream Media = The Matrix?

Who Tells Us What To Think? Does The Mainstream Media = The Matrix? - Photo by ProperpilotDo you believe that you really think for yourself?  Did you come up with your attitudes, opinions and beliefs on your own, or are they continually being shaped and molded by someone else?  Could it be possible that you and everyone around you is actually hooked into a real life version of “the matrix” that is constantly defining your reality for you?  Sadly, the truth is that almost all of us have willingly hooked ourselves into a colossal media system that literally tells us what to think.  In the United States today, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  We also spend huge amounts of time watching movies, surfing the Internet, reading books and magazines, playing video games and listening to music.  Many Americans are so addicted to being “connected” that they will actually become physically uncomfortable if they are at home and there is total silence.  Unfortunately, as I pointed out in a previous article, somewhere around 90 percent of the “information” that we are allowing to be endlessly pumped into our heads is owned by just 6 gigantic media corporations.  So could it be possible that the thousands of hours of “news and entertainment” that you are allowing these gigantic corporations to fill your head with each year is having an effect on you?  Does the mainstream media have more control over you than you ever dreamed possible?  If you want to continue on in blissful ignorance, stop reading now,  but if you want to take “the red pill”, keep on reading because the further down the rabbit hole you go, the stranger that things get.

When you go to work or to school in the morning, what is everyone talking about?

Usually, people are talking about something that they saw on television or that they heard about in the news.

In our society today, the limited interactions that we do have with other people are usually defined by our mutual connection to the media.

The mainstream media literally defines for us what is important and what is not.  If the mainstream media does not talk about something, then it simply does not matter.

I don’t know how many times over the years I have heard someone tell me some version of the following statement: “If that was true we would have heard about it on the news.”

Has anyone ever said something similar to you?

The funny thing is that most of the time I won’t even mention something important that I may have heard in one of my articles unless I can back it up with a “mainstream source”, and I don’t even trust the mainstream media.

I know that the mainstream media often distorts the facts and often tells outright lies, but I regularly link to them because that gives my articles more “credibility” in the eyes of those that are still fully hooked into the matrix.

In a world where the big media corporations have so much power, is there any hope for us?

As long as the big corporations that control the media are dominating and controlling the conversation, is there any chance that there will ever be a mass awakening among the American people?

Our young people seem particularly addicted to being constantly “connected” to the media matrix that is being constructed all around us.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Daniel Taylor

According to a 2010 LA Times report, young people spend on average 53 hours a week watching TV, playing video games, and sitting at the computer.

Facebook users spend about 15 hours a month on the social networking site.

People are walking – and driving – blindly while texting, sometimes walking into fountains and even falling off cliffs.

Wow – our young people spend more than 200 hours a month connected to the mainstream media?

But we only have about 480 waking hours a month to work with.

If they are being exposed to that amount of continuous propaganda, what hope do our young people have?

In the old days, kids actually played with each other in the streets and adults actually left their homes to interact with one another.

But these days we spend nearly all of our time sitting passively in our homes staring at flickering screens.

Is that a sign of a healthy society?

We were created to be social creatures.  We were designed to love and to be loved.  But these days people “love” their favorite sports teams or they “love” their favorite television shows but we have an increasingly difficult time having real relationships with each other.

Meanwhile, the global elite rely on the mainstream media to keep us distracted and to control the boundaries of public discourse.  Most of the time, the mainstream media focuses on the latest celebrity scandal or the latest dogfights between the Republicans and the Democrats and they systematically ignore many of the more important things that are taking place out there.

Let me just give you one example of how the mainstream media shapes the news.  For decades, there was almost a complete and total media blackout on the Bilderberg Group meetings that happen every year.  Top newspaper executives from the United States would actually attend these meetings, but then their newspapers would not say a single word about them.

If anyone out there did bring up “the Bilderberg Group”, they were dismissed as wacky “conspiracy theorists” and were told that it simply does not exist.

Of course now we all know that it does exist, although the mainstream media in the U.S. still mostly ignores it.  In fact, this has been by design.  The following is what David Rockefeller is alleged to have said during a Bilderberg Group meeting back in 1991…

We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.

Even today, many prominent “journalists” in the U.S. mock people when they bring up the Bilderberg Group.  For example, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC says that he is “way too lazy” to look into the Bilderberg Group and that he “doesn’t know about it, so it must not exist”.

For much more on the connection between the mainstream media and the global elite, please see this article: “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“.

Instead of telling us what is really going on in the world, the mainstream media keeps us endlessly distracted.  The following are just a few of the headlines that can be found on the front pages of major mainstream news sites right now…

-College student creates condom delivery service

-Michael Douglas is feeling ‘good’

-Golf tournament delayed by kangaroos

-Rock ‘n’ roll hamburger experience

-Lady Gaga cancels tour, set for surgery

Wow – those are some examples of some really hard-hitting journalism right there.

So why do most Americans continue to fall for this nonsense?

Sadly, part of the reason is because we have become so “dumbed down” as a society.

Recently, the Guardian conducted an evaluation of the reading level of every State of the Union address in U.S. history.  What they found is that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have had the second lowest reading level average in history, and that in general the reading levels of the speeches have been significantly declining over time.

But it is not just our presidents that appear to be getting stupider.  The truth is that our public education system is a total joke at this point.  Many of our high school students are as dumb as a rock, and if you can believe it, 23 percent of all Americans cannot even read beyond a fourth-grade level.

Of course the elite are quite pleased with this, because a stupid public is a public that is easier to dominate.

When a large segment of the population can barely read and is accustomed to letting others do their thinking for them, it becomes easier to lie.

For example, on Thursday Paul Krugman of the New York Times made the following statement

“Growing dependence on government is mostly a myth”

Of course most of you that are reading this know that is a flat-out lie.  The charts in this article clearly show that the number of Americans on food stamps is at an all-time high and the percentage of the population that is on food stamps is at an all-time high.

Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a household that got money from the federal government each month,  Now, an all-time high 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives money from the government each month.

For many more stats and charts that demonstrate the stunning growth of government dependence, please see this article and this article.

Sadly, the truth doesn’t seem to matter too much to the media these days.  The mainstream media tends to be incredibly arrogant, and most of the time they don’t even pretend to be “objective” or “neutral” anymore.

Fortunately, more Americans than ever are becoming dissatisfied with the mainstream media and are starting to seek out alternative sources of information.  According to a recent Gallup poll, the level of trust that the American public has in the mainstream media is now at an all-time low.

So perhaps there is hope after all.

What do you think?

The Matrix - Photo by Jamie Zawinski

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing

If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again.  Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter.  Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt.  So what is the solution?  Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers.  In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy.  Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010.  These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet.  So needless to say, things don’t look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013.  If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?

If you are concerned about whether or not you will still have a job 12 months from now, you might find the numbers posted below to be quite alarming.  We have not seen layoff announcements come this fast and this furious since the gloomy days of the last recession.

According to Bloomberg, job cuts are well ahead of the pace set last year…

North American companies have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad since Sept. 1, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.

So what happens if the economy really starts sliding rapidly and this loss of jobs becomes an avalanche?

Can the U.S. economy and the American people handle another major economic downturn?

Some of the biggest names in the business world have announced job cuts in recent weeks.  The following are 15 signs that layoffs and job losses are skyrocketing…

1. Dow Chemical has announced that it will be closing about 20 plants and will be letting about 2,400 workers go.

2. Colgate-Palmolive has announced that they will be eliminating about 2,300 jobs.

3. DuPont has announced plans to eliminate about 1,500 jobs.

4. Ford has announced that it will be eliminating 6,200 jobs and will be reducing production capacity in Europe by 18 percent.

5. Hewlett-Packard announced last month that they plan to eliminate 29,000 jobs.

6. Chip maker AMD has announced that they will be getting rid of about 15 percent of their workers.

7. Sony has announced plans to reduce their workforce by about 2,000 workers.

8. Electronics manufacturer Sharp reportedly plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs.

9. Engine maker Cummins Inc. has announced that they plan to get rid of about 1,500 jobs by the end of 2012.

10. Earlier this month Applied Materials announced a plan that will eliminate up to 1,300 jobs.

11. Zynga (known for making video games for Facebook such as FarmVille) has announced that they are reducing their workforce by about 5 percent.

12. Lattice Semiconductor has announced plans to eliminate about 13 percent of their jobs.

13. Alcatel-Lucent recently announced a plan to eliminate more than 5000 jobs all over the globe.

14. Siemens AG has announced that the number of positions being eliminated may reach 10,000 by the end of the year.

15. Banking giant UBS plans to eliminate up to 5,000 jobs.

Please keep in mind that these job cuts do not show up in the unemployment numbers yet.  When big corporations announce the elimination of jobs, it often takes a while before those job losses actually take place.

Sadly, I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I am convinced that the layoffs and the job losses are going to get a lot worse.

In fact, 2013 is already shaping up to be a very difficult year for the economy no matter how the election turns out.

Those of you that read my articles regularly already know that our economic system is becoming increasingly unstable.  We could literally plunge into another major recession at any moment.

Not that we need any more economic trouble.  Tens of millions of American families are having to fight tooth and nail just to make it from month to month right now.

There aren’t enough jobs and the middle class is rapidly shrinking.  Even if you do have a job, that does not mean that you are doing okay.  About a quarter of all jobs do not even pay enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level, and entry level wages for those with just a high school education have been steadily declining over the past 40 years.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

So what is going to happen if we do have another avalanche of job losses like we saw back in 2008 and 2009?

Will even more of us end up dependent on the government?

We are told that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, but the number of Americans that are dependent on the government just continues to soar.  In fact, at this point it is at an all-time high.

If the economy is getting better, then why does the number of Americans on food stamps just keep going up?  To get an idea of just how massive the food stamp program has become, just check out this infographic.

One of the most frightening things about the possibility of another major economic downturn is the loss of hope that it could bring.

At this point, most Americans still believe that things will get better eventually.

But what is going to happen when large segments of our population lose all hope?

How desperate will they become?

When people become desperate, they tend to do desperate things.

Just check out what happened to a family down in Woodstock, Georgia the other day.  They had just lost their home to foreclosure, and they were getting ready to move out.  So they posted an ad on Craigslist for people to come over and get some things that they were planning to get rid of.  What happened next is a glimpse into the kind of desperate behavior that we may see during the next major economic downturn…

Their online post was just a well-meaning ad for a giveaway in their driveway outside the small house, a giveaway scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

But big crowds showed up and ended up taking practically everything inside the house, too.

Wednesday night, Michael Vercher walked 11Alive’s Jon Shirek through his family’s almost empty soon-to-be former home.

“Well, when we got to the house, I mean, pretty much — this,” he said as he stepped from the foyer into the living room.

Their home — ransacked, ravaged, raked over.

Almost everything inside — gone.

My wife and I once used Craigslist quite a bit, but incidents like this make one question the wisdom of inviting strangers to come to your home.

Sadly, the truth is that society is rapidly decaying, and the worse unemployment becomes the more desperate people are going to get.

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you have any stories that you would like to share?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Is Wal-Mart Destroying America? Facts About Wal-Mart That Will Absolutely Shock You

America absolutely loves Wal-Mart.  100 million customers visit Wal-Mart every single week in this country.  But is Wal-Mart good for America?  That is a question that most people never stop and ask.  Most of us love shopping in big, clean stores that are packed with super cheap merchandise, but the truth is that Wal-Mart is destroying America in a lot of ways.  As you will see below, Wal-Mart has destroyed tens of thousands of small businesses and countless manufacturing jobs over the past couple of decades.  Wal-Mart has become a gigantic retail behemoth that sells five times more stuff than any other retailer in the United States.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of all the stuff sold at Wal-Mart is made overseas.  What that is costing the U.S. economy in terms of lost jobs and lost revenue is incalculable.  But Wal-Mart is a perfect example of where our economic system is headed.  Our economy is becoming completely and totally dominated by highly centralized monolithic predator corporations that ruthlessly crush all competition and that will stoop to just about anything in order to cut costs.  In the future, will we all be working for gigantic communal entities that funnel all of the wealth and economic rewards to a very tiny elite?  That sounds very much like how communist China works, and red-blooded Americans should want no part of that.  America is supposed to be about free enterprise and competition and working together to build up this country, and Wal-Mart is destroying all of that.

The following are 20 facts about Wal-Mart that will absolutely shock you….

#1 The average U.S. family now spends more than $4000 a year at Wal-Mart.

#2 In 2010, Wal-Mart had revenues of 421 billion dollars.  That amount was greater than the GDP of 170 different countries including Norway, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.

#3 If Wal-Mart was a nation, it would have the 23rd largest GDP in the world.

#4 Wal-Mart now sells more groceries than anyone else in America does.  In the United States today, one out of every four grocery dollars is spent at Wal-Mart.

#5 Amazingly, 100 million customers shop at Wal-Mart every single week.

#6 Wal-Mart has opened more than 1,100 “supercenters” since 2005 alone.

#7 Today, Wal-Mart has more than 2 million employees.

#8 If Wal-Mart was an army, it would be the second largest military on the planet behind China.

#9 Wal-Mart is the largest employer in 25 different U.S. states.

#10 According to the Economic Policy Institute, trade between Wal-Mart and China resulted in the loss of 133,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2006.

#11 The CEO of Wal-Mart makes more in a single hour than a full-time Wal-Mart associate makes in an entire year.

#12 Tens of thousands of Wal-Mart employees and their children are enrolled in Medicaid and are dependent on the government for healthcare.

#13 Between 2001 and 2007, the value of products that Wal-Mart imported from China grew from $9 billion to $27 billion.

#14 Amazingly, 96 percent of all Americans now live within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart.

#15 The number of “independent retailers” in the United States declined by 60,000 between 1992 and 2007.

#16 According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wal-Mart spent 7.8 million dollars on political lobbying during 2011.  That number does not even include campaign contributions.

#17 Today, Wal-Mart has five times the sales of the second largest U.S. retailer (Costco).

#18 The combined net worth of six members of the Walton family is roughly equal to the combined net worth of the poorest 30 percent of all Americans.

All over the country, independent retailers are going out of business because they cannot compete with Wal-Mart and their super cheap Chinese products.  Often communities will give Wal-Mart huge tax breaks just to move in to their areas.  But what many communities don’t take into account is that the introduction of a Wal-Mart is often absolutely devastating to small businesses….

A study of small and rural towns in Iowa showed lost sales for local businesses ranging from -17.2% in small towns to -61.4% in rural areas, amounting to a total dollar loss of $2.46 BILLION over a 13-year period.

When we buy stuff made by people working for slave labor wages in China, we destroy good paying American jobs and we make America poorer.  This is a point that I have tried to make over and over.

Wal-Mart often tells one thing to the public and then does another thing in private.  Sadly, the truth is that Wal-Mart does not care about U.S. manufacturing jobs.  Wal-Mart just wants to get products as cheaply as they possibly can, and most of the time that means getting them from China.

Just check out this first-hand testimony from an 81-year-old retired apparel manufacturer….

I was president of the Southwestern Apparel Manufacturers Association. There was a meeting sometime between 1985 and 1990. Walmart had contacted our organization and asked if they could meet with us at our beautiful Apparel Mart we had here in Dallas, which has now been razed, because all the independent merchants don’t exist that used to come to it. Two people from Walmart came down and they said they were going to be sourcing goods from overseas and we would have to meet those prices for consumer products and to get ready for it—we are going to be sourcing the world. Walmart was the only company that came out and said this.

It was sort of shocking: I was selling them some merchandise at the time. On the back of their trucks it was saying “Bring it Back to America!” They had the big “keep it in America” program going at that time on the big signs in the stores. Meanwhile when I reminded the buyer of that, she told me, “that is just for domestic consumption, we’re going to buy at the cheapest we can anywhere on earth.”

As I have written about previously, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.

We are losing millions of good jobs that cannot be replaced.  If you can believe it, the United States has actually lost an average of about 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Last year, the U.S. trade deficit with China was the biggest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world, and Wal-Mart played a huge role in that.

In fact, Wal-Mart has actually been forcing some U.S. manufacturers to pack up and move overseas.  The following is from a recent article by Amy Traub….

Walmart’s market power is so immense that the even the largest suppliers must comply with its demands for lower and lower prices because they cannot afford to have their goods taken off its shelves. Companies that used to manufacture products in the United States, from Levi’s jeans to lock maker Master Lock, were pressured to shut their U.S. factories and moved manufacturing abroad to meet Walmart’s demand for low prices.

Unfortunately, the vast wealth that Wal-Mart is sucking out of our communities is not put back into our communities.  The profits are funneled out to Wal-Mart executives and shareholders.  We may enjoy the low prices, but very little of the money that we give to Wal-Mart gets recycled in our local areas.

In the old days, you could actually support a family selling electronics or running a general store.  But you can’t support a family working at Wal-Mart.  The vast majority of the jobs that Wal-Mart creates are very low paying.  Large numbers of Wal-Mart employees are actually on welfare, and this is part of the reason why we have seen such an explosion in the number of the working poor in America.

At this point, more than 40 percent of all jobs in America are low wage jobs and the middle class is rapidly disappearing.

If we do not support American jobs and American manufacturers they will continue to go away and the welfare rolls in this country will continue to explode.

There is not going to be any prosperity in this country without jobs.  Unfortunately, most Americans simply do not understand how good jobs are being systematically destroyed in America every single day.

The path that America is headed on today is only going to end in complete and total disaster.  We are being transformed from a wealthy nation into a poor nation.  In the end, we will be dominated by a very tiny elite and everyone else will either be among the working poor or will be totally dependent on the government.

Our system is supposed to be about open, honest competition.  But that is not what Wal-Mart is about.  Wal-Mart is about crushing small businesses and manufacturers here in America and getting us all to buy their super cheap Chinese-made goods.

So what do all of you think about Wal-Mart?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Is The Food We Eat Killing Us?

Are we digging our own graves with our teeth?  Is the food that we eat every day slowly killing us?  When I was growing up, I just assumed that everything in the grocery store was perfectly safe and perfectly healthy.  I just assumed that the government and the big corporations were watching out for us and that they would never allow something harmful to be sold in the stores.  Boy, was I wrong!  Today, the average American diet is extremely unhealthy.  Most of the foods that we all love to eat are absolutely packed with things that will damage our health.  Many of the ingredients that make our foods “taste good” such as fat, salt and sugar can be extremely damaging in large amounts.  On top of that, most processed foods are absolutely loaded with chemicals and preservatives.  The next time you go to the grocery store, just start turning over packages and read the “ingredients” that are being put into our food.  If you have never done this before, you will be absolutely amazed.  In many of our most common foods there are “ingredients” that I cannot even pronounce.  Sadly, most Americans have no idea that eating a steady diet of these processed foods will likely leave them massively overweight, very sick and much closer to death.

Eating healthy takes more time, more effort and more money than eating poorly does.

Unfortunately, most Americans are content to chow down on foods that are quick to make and that taste good.

In particular, Americans are absolutely addicted to foods that are loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

When you start looking at food product labels, you will find that either sugar or high fructose corn syrup is in almost everything.

For example, I was absolutely amazed when I learned that most bread sold in our grocery stores contains high fructose corn syrup.

Why in the world would they need to put that into our bread?

Today, Americans are consuming far more sugar and high fructose corn syrup than ever before, and this has many health professionals very alarmed.  The following is an excerpt from an article on the website of the Mayo Clinic….

Some research studies have linked consumption of large amounts of any type of added sugar — not just high-fructose corn syrup — to such health problems as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and increased triglyceride levels, which can boost your heart attack risk.

But it is not just sweeteners that are a concern.

There are great concerns about much of the meat that we eat as well.

Today, we grow animals much larger than we used to, but it comes at a price.

For example, we pump our cows full of growth hormones and they stand around in piles of their own manure until it is time for them to die.

If many Americans were aware of where the “cheap beef” in their grocery stores really comes from they might just change their eating habits.

Another dramatic change that has happened to our food supply in recent decades has been the rise of genetically modified crops.

In this area, there has been nothing short of a revolution.

In 1996, only about 2% of all soybeans in the United States were genetically modified.  Today, about 90% of all soybeans in the United States are genetically modified.

At this point, approximately 70% of all processed foods in our grocery stores contain at least one ingredient that has been genetically modified.

This is one reason why so many Americans have shifted to an organic diet.  Nobody really knows what the long-term health effects of eating all of this genetically-modified food will be on all of us.

But there are some things that we do know.

For example, if you drink large amounts of soda every day you are going to gain weight and you are likely to damage your health.

Sadly, even though we know this, the average American still consumes over 600 12-ounce servings of soda per year.

Is it any wonder that we have an obesity epidemic in America?

As I wrote about the other day, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese.

In fact, the United States has a higher percentage of obese people than any other major industrialized nation does.

All of this obesity helps to explain the dramatic rise that we have seen in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes in recent years.

Did you know that people living in the United States are three times more likely to have diabetes than people living in the United Kingdom?

It is not a mystery why this is happening.

It is because of our unhealthy diets.

The food we eat is killing us.

We are a nation that is becoming a little less healthy every single day, and this is causing healthcare costs to completely spiral out of control.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980.  Today they account for approximately 16.3%.

That is an incredible rise.

And health care costs have been rising much faster than the overall rate of inflation.

For example, health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages have in the United States over the past decade.

As Americans get sicker, health care will continue to be a “growth industry”.

When we all get sick, what do the doctors do?

They put us all on prescription drugs.

According to the CDC, the percentage of Americans that report that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last 30 days has risen to almost 50 percent.

In fact, 31 percent of Americans say that they have taken at least two prescription drugs within the last 30 days and 11 percent have taken at least five prescription drugs within the last 30 days.

But what happens when you take prescription drugs?

Well, most of them have nasty little side effects that cause even more health problems.

You know, there is something to be said for going back to a much more natural approach to health.  For example, a recent study found that Amish children have very low levels of asthma and allergies.  The following is from a recent Reuters article….

Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.

“The rates are very, very low,” said Dr. Mark Holbreich, the study’s lead author. “So there’s something that we feel is even more protective in the Amish” than in European farming communities.

What it is about growing up on farms — and Amish farms in particular — that seems to prevent allergies remains unclear.

Could the Amish teach the rest of us a thing or two about staying healthy?

That is something to think about.

Another aspect of all this is the packaging that our food comes in.

Chemicals from the packaging our food comes in can often get into our food and have serious health effects as an article by Emily Barrett recently described….

Increasingly, evidence shows that the plastics and wrappers used for packaging can inadvertently leach unwanted chemicals into food. Several recent studies found high levels of bisphenol A – an environmental chemical that can disrupt hormonal processes – in canned foods and in packaged foods for people and pets.

Now, another study suggests that the problems go far beyond just one culprit or one health effect. Among the many toxic chemicals that can migrate from packaging into food are the endocrine disrupting phthalates and organotins and the carcinogen benzophenone. These compounds are heavily used in food packaging and have known health effects, yet are not routinely tested or regulated in food, according to the paper’s author Jane Muncke.*

Although some regulations exist to guarantee safe food packaging, the current system does not address concerns posed by endocrine disrupting chemicals, Muncke explains.* The associated health effects of exposure to hormone altering compounds are many and varied, including immune disfunction, metabolic disorders (diabetes, thyroid) and reproductive problems.

But our story is still not over.

After we are done with our food we throw the packaging in the garbage and most Americans never even think about where it eventually ends up.

Unfortunately, much of it ends up out in the ocean.

In the Pacific Ocean today, there is a toxic stew of plastic and garbage about twice the size of the continental United States that is known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch“.

According to a BBC report, there are now 100 times more small plastic fragments in the northeast Pacific Ocean than 40 years ago.

But most of us never even stop and think about how the food we eat is destroying our bodies and the world around us.

Most of us just go through our daily lives assuming that somehow everything is going to be okay.

But the truth is that our food is causing major problems.

Sadly, with each passing year the federal government and the big corporations get even more control over our system of food distribution.

Hopefully more Americans will wake up and will start rejecting the “food” that the system wants to cram down our throats.

We all need to start making better choices.

Growing a garden, eating organic foods and supporting local farmers are some good places to start.

24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes In The United States That Will Blow Your Mind

The U.S. tax code is a complete and utter abomination and it needs to be thrown out entirely.  Nobody in their right mind would ever read the whole thing – it is over 3 million words long.  Each year, Americans spend billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to comply with federal tax requirements.  Sadly, it is the honest, hard working Americans in the middle class that always get hit the hardest.  The tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that big corporations and the ultra-wealthy use to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible.  Many poor people do not pay any income taxes at all.  The dishonest are rewarded for cheating on their taxes (if they can get away with it) and the ultra-wealthy have moved trillions of dollars to offshore tax havens where they can avoid U.S. taxation altogether.  Our system is incredibly unfair to the millions of hard working people in the middle class and upper middle class that drag themselves out of bed and go to work each day and try to do the right thing.  In addition, the current U.S. tax system is incredibly inefficient, it diverts a tremendous amount of resources away from more valuable economic activities, and it has chased thousands of businesses and trillions of dollars out of the United States.  The U.S. tax code is such a complete and utter mess at this point that it can never be “fixed”.  The only rational thing to do is to abolish it completely, and any politician that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

The following are 24 outrageous facts about taxes in the United States that will blow your mind….

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long.  If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements.  Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long.  Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade.  It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly.  For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household.  All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes.  Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

11 – Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.

12 – The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.

13 – According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.

14 – Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.

15 – The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.

16 – Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.

17 – The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent).  In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent.  This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.

18 – Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations.  For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.

19 – In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.  In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

20 – In a previous article, I discussed how many of our largest corporations make huge profits and yet pay less than nothing in taxes….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

21 – Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, but not a single penny went to the U.S. government.

22 – Many wealthy Americans hide enormous amounts of money outside the country in order to avoid paying taxes.  According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks.

23 – The number of traffic accidents spikes each year right around April 15th.  The following is from a recent Bloomberg article….

Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

24 – Most of the tax debate is focused on income taxes, but the truth is that Americans pay dozens of other taxes every single year.  The following are just a few of the taxes that many Americans pay….

#1 Building Permit Taxes

#2 Capital Gains Taxes

#3 Cigarette Taxes

#4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#5 Dog License Taxes

#6 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#7 Fishing License Taxes

#8 Food License Taxes

#9 Gasoline Taxes

#10 Gift Taxes

#11 Hunting License Taxes

#12 Inheritance Taxes

#13 Inventory Taxes

#14 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#15 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#16 Liquor Taxes

#17 Luxury Taxes

#18 Marriage License Taxes

#19 Medicare Taxes

#20 Property Taxes

#21 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#22 Toll Booth Taxes

#23 Sales Taxes

#24 Self-Employment Taxes

#25 School Taxes

#26 Septic Permit Taxes

#27 Service Charge Taxes

#28 Social Security Taxes

#29 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#30 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#31 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#32 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#33 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#34 Tire Taxes

#35 Toll Bridge Taxes

#36 Toll Tunnel Taxes

#37 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#38 Utility Taxes

#39 Vehicle License Registration Taxes

#40 Vehicle Sales Taxes

#41 Workers Compensation Taxes

When you account for all forms of taxation on the federal, state and local levels there are many Americans that pay out more than half of their incomes in taxes.

We are being taxed into oblivion, and yet most Americans do not even realize that it is happening.

It is kind of like being killed by thousands of tiny cuts.

So what do all of these taxes buy us?

They buy us a massively bloated government that wastes money on some of the craziest things imaginable.

Millions of Americans work for the federal government, and yet most of them produce very little of real economic value.  The following comes from a recent National Review article….

By 2005, the federal government employed 14.6 million people: 1.9 million civil servants, 770,000 postal workers, 1.44 million uniformed service personnel, 7.6 million contractors, and 2.9 million grantees. This amounted to a ratio of five and a half “shadow” government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll. Since 1999, the government had grown by over 4.5 million employees.

According to that same article, when you add in state and local government workers the numbers are even more dramatic….

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3.8 million full-time and 1.5 million part-time employees on state payrolls. Local governments add a further 11 million full-time and 3.2 million part-time personnel. This means that state and local governments combined employ 19.5 million Americans.

Yes, we do need some government.  For example, without any law enforcement at all our society would descend into complete chaos, and without any military at all we would be completely open to foreign conquest.

In order to have a stable, secure society we do need some government.

However, we definitely do not need the massively bloated government that we have today.

The truth is that most government employees are a drain on the system.  Most of them just push paper around.  I used to work in Washington D.C. so I know what pushing paper around is all about.

And as I wrote about yesterday, there are millions of other Americans that enjoy a comfortable existence at the expense of the federal government without doing any work whatsoever.

Of course the biggest welfare recipients of all are the big corporations.  All forms of corporate welfare should be eliminated immediately.

When are U.S. taxpayers going to get sick and tired of paying for all of this?

Every single year, the federal government, state governments and local governments drain massive amounts of desperately needed money from hard working middle class families.

Then they take that money and spend it on incredibly foolish things.

When are American voters going to stand up and boldly declare that they have been taxed enough already and they aren’t going to take it anymore?

The current tax code is completely and utterly broken and it is beyond repair.

Unfortunately, neither the Republicans or the Democrats are proposing that we should get rid of it.

So we are just going to continue to get more of the same year after year, and it is the middle class that will feel the pain.

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